Tuesday, 6 May 2014

To A Skylark [ P.B.Shelley ]



P. B. Shelley is a great revolutionary Romantic poet in English literature. In the poem “To A Skylark”, Shelley wants to learn the skylark’s poetic skill, so that he can make such a wonderful music full of revolutionary ideas for the making of a new civilization based on equality, liberty and fraternity. He says that the skylark is invisible but its melodious music is overflowing the sky and the earth and the poet is absorbed in “a flood of rapture so divine. The poet believes that the skylark is not a mere bird of the world, but a divine spirit, for she sings in full hearted ease and her poem is unpremeditated art. It is spontaneous and natural just as her flight in the depth of the sky. And the music is everlasting. This poem is addressed to the skylark.

2. While sitting at home one evening Shelley heard a sweet music and it delighted his sad mind. It is the music of a skylark, which is invisible in the sky. The bird sings as easily as its flight in the blue. Its poetic skill is “unpremeditated art”. A poem is created by human poet after hundreds of corrections and many months of hard work. Even then the poem is not perfect and sweet as the song of the skylark.

3. Shelley is a master of using beautiful and striking similes in his poetry especially in his poems “Ode to the West Wind” and “To A Skylark”. The skylark is compared to the sun in the morning. When the sunlight becomes brighter, the sun goes invisible. Similarly the skylark is invisible, but the poet feels its presence in the sweet music, which is overflowing everywhere.

4. Again the poet compares the marvelous poetic skill of the skylark to a “poet hidden” and to a “high-born maiden” imprisoned in a palace tower. The hidden poet is singing hymns which create feelings of hopes fear and sympathy in the hearts of the listeners. The highborn maiden is kept in the palace tower and she is singing about her lover.  The music is as sweet as love, which is overflowing the palace tower and the passers-by enjoy the music. But they don’t see the beautiful singer who is hidden in the tower. 

5. The flow of comparisons continues and the skylark is compared to a “glow-worm golden” and a rose hidden by leaves. People feel the presence of the glow-worm by its golden light. Next example is about the “embowered rose flower:” The beetles don’t see the flower, but they are attracted by its sweet smell. Similarly Shelley knows well the skylark is there, although he cannot see the bird, for its music is overflowing everywhere and the poet himself is absorbed in the magical power of the music. And this music gives him “a flood of rapture so divine”.

6. Shelley tells the skylark that her music is far sweeter and more beautiful than all the beautiful sights in human world. The sound of rain falling on the twinkling grass and the rain-awakened flowers are joyous and clear and fresh. But the skylark’s music surpasses everything in the world. Therefore the poet requests the bird to teach him the secret of her poetic skill.  Wedding songs and victory songs are the sweetest songs, which delighted all people alike. But even these human songs are empty sounds compared with the bird’s music.

7. Shelley thinks that the skylark’s clear joyful music contains no dullness or irritation. Her love is divine for there is no dullness in her love.  On the other hand human beings are mortals and they are always afraid of death, diseases and sorrow. They can never be satisfied in their life. They suffer from hate, pride and fear. That is why man made music is dull and imperfect. Sorrow and anxiety follow every man like a shadow till his death. So even the sweetest songs of men contain the tinge of sad thoughts and they cannot delight men.

The poem ends in hope because P.B.Shelley requests the Skylark to teach him the divine poetic skill of the bird which is unpremeditated art so that the poet will compose such sweet songs and the world will listen to him. In his poems he will give his revolutionary ideas to the world, so that a new civilized society can be built up based on equality, liberty and fraternity.
Kjt/1/12/2012


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